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ABC Family Names Ascheim President

ABC Family, in the midst of its annual "25 Days of Christmas" programming gambit, unwrapped a new present for itself, tapping cable and media veteran Tom Ascheim as president.

Ascheim, whose career path led him to become executive vice president and general manager of Nickelodeon Television and CEO of Newsweek, starts in his new role immediately, reporting directly to Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group.

He succeeds Michael Riley in helming the millennial-targeted entertainment service. Riley, who oversaw the day-to-day operations of ABC Family for almost three years, announced in September that he was exiting the service to explore international TV and content opportunities.

“I knew Tom during my time at Nickelodeon, and always thought he was an incredibly smart, strategic executive,” said Sweeney in announcing the hire. “Since then, he has only reinforced my opinion of his abilities.  Whether in print, television, or the financial sector, Tom has gone from success to success. He has a proven capability of leading creative teams, and I’m thrilled that he’ll now bring his innovative, entrepreneurial spirit to bear on behalf of ABC Family and the Disney/ABC Television Group.”

The service averaged 1.11 million primetime viewers in November, off 11% from the prior year, while shedding 13% of its total-day audience to 571,000 watchers last month, compared with 656,000 in November 2012, according to Nielsen data.

Ascheim began his career assisting an independent film producer at Geoffrey Drummond Productions and became a financial analyst at Silver Screen Management before joining Viacom in 1990. He initially served as vice president of Nickelodeon business development and media products, before being promoted to executive vice president and general manager of Nickelodeon Digital Television Networks. He also led the negotiation between Nick and Sesame Workshop, which resulted in a joint venture and the creation of Noggin and oversaw The N, a channel dedicated to serving millennials.

He ultimately worked as executive vice president and general manager of Nickelodeon Television, where he managed the complete portfolio, including Nickelodeon, Nick@Nite, Nike Jr., and Nick's three digital networks.

In 2007, he joined Newsweek as CEO with responsibilities over all global operations, web and mobile sites, regional magazines in U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America. In this role, he led the effort to sell Newsweek and worked with the new owner to execute the merger with The Daily Beast.

After four years at Newsweek, Aischeim became chief strategy officer of Sesame Workshop, and served as the executive vice president of Sesame Learning. 

Most recently, he was president and founder of the consultancy TEA Lane Media.

“I had the pleasure of working with Anne at the beginning of my career, so when she offered me the opportunity to join the enormously talented team at ABC Family, I jumped at the chance,” said Ascheim.  “While ABC Family has accomplished so much already, I'm very confident that we have only just begun to tap its full potential.”